Nancy Holt

Underscan (1974) VHS NTSC, black and white, 8 min

Genre: Experimental

Based on the letters received by the artist from her Aunt Ethel, UNDERSCAN is a videotape about the passage of time. The tape chronicles the daily events in the aging woman's life, including the gradual deterioration of both her body and her house. While the letters are read, photographs of Aunt Ethel's environment are seen: exterior shots of her house are followed by shots of the living room, which are in turn followed by pictures of more personal scenes in the kitchen and bedroom. These images are manipulated by the video underscan process which appears to distort and then compress the information, just as Nancy Holt has done in editing the letters. In this way, the sound of Holt's voice reading her aunt's descent into old age interacts with the images. Certain yearly occurrences repeat in an auditory rhythm, coinciding with the cycle of visual changes. "Her accounts... create a moving narrative about the process of growing old. The neutral delivery of the artist's voice reading the letters precludes any sentimentality in our response to them. Aunt Ethel's vision begins to fail, she listens to Oral Roberts. Living alone, she makes arrangements for her own funeral. Throughout the tape there are references to natural cycles and in her last letter Aunt Ethel writes, '... my yard is full of roses now, it is very pretty.'" --Arthur Tsuchiya, Afterimage

Rental: $300.00
VHS NTSC Rental: $300.00

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